Joint Press Availability With Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida After Their Meeting

Press Availability
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Iikura Guest House
Tokyo, Japan
April 14, 2013

The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to start the U.S.-Japan joint press conference. First we’d like to call upon Minister Kishida, followed by Secretary Kerry please.

Minister Kishida, please.

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Allow me to begin. I’d like to welcome His Excellency Secretary Kerry to Japan. Secretary Kerry and I had an opportunity to talk at the G-8 foreign minister meeting in London the other day. Today we exchanged views on a wide range of topics such as U.S.-Japan bilateral relations, the immediate challenge of North Korea, and other regional issues, as well as Syria, Middle East peace process, amongst others.

At today’s meeting, a lot of time was dedicated to discussion on North Korea. At the same time, we just discussed other issues related to Asia Pacific. Secretary Kerry and I were able to share our views, and we reaffirmed that there is a need for both countries to reinforce a partnership based on the U.S.-Japan alliance.

I believe the meeting was very substantive and fit to conclude the Secretary’s first visit to Asia.

First, Secretary Kerry and I reaffirmed that the U.S.-Japan alliance has a pivotal role to play in bringing about peace and prosperity in this region.

On the security front, I welcome the fact that the U.S. is maintaining a strategy of rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and is positioned to retain its defense commitment under the U.S.-Japan alliance.

I also communicated Japan’s intention to fulfill its responsibility, together with the United States, to contribute to regional peace and stability. We reaffirmed to implement bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas.

Regarding the U.S. military realignment on the Futema air station relocation and return of land south of Kadina, we confirmed steady progress has been made on both sides, and that both countries should continue to cooperate towards reducing the impact on Okinawa. We also confirmed to make firm progress towards transferring the U.S. Marines in Okinawa to Guam.

Allow me to talk about U.S.-Japan economic relations. Consultation on Japan’s bid to join TPP talks has just ended. If the world’s number one and number three economies, i.e. U.S. and Japan, were to join TPP, TPP will come to hold an even greater strategic importance. Japan’s participation in TPP negotiations also contribute to strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance. Against this backdrop, have called on Secretary Kerry to cooperate towards promoting the U.S. internal process and process amongst TPP members so as to realize the early participation of Japan.

On other U.S.-Japan issues, we agreed it was important to strengthen our bilateral policy dialogue and carry out exchange of lawmakers. I introduced Japan’s youth exchange program, due to begin next month on a scale of some 5,000 participants.

We confirmed that various cooperation is underway between the two countries. The U.S.-Japan cyber-dialogue will be held on May 9th and 10th here in Tokyo. And we confirmed that both countries should aim to sign and conclude the bilateral agreement on space situational awareness, SSA cooperation, at an early date.

Regarding the Asia Pacific, first on North Korea, following our discussion in London, we were able to have in-depth exchange of views on this topic. We agreed North Korea must immediately stop its provocative speech and behavior, and show it is taking specific towards denuclearization. We cannot in any way allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons. We agreed that countries must ensure that measures – they need to be taken, and we also said the (inaudible) discussion of steps to stop North Korea’s nuclear program is needed, and U.S.-Japan senior officials will hold consultations shortly. Furthermore, we agreed that it is important for U.S., Japan, and South Korea to deepen collaboration.

From my side, I thanked Secretary Kerry for his interest on the abduction issue, and I expressed my hope the U.S. will continue to show understanding and support towards this subject.

Also, on China, we discussed Senkaku issue and other issues. Japan-China relations are one of the most important relations for Japan, but I explained that Japan cannot concede on issues related to her sovereignty. I stated Japan is calling on China to reaffirm our mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interest, and I explained Japan’s door is always open to dialogue.

And also on global issues, the Middle East peace talks in particular, economic support towards Palestine and also the support towards Jordan vis-à-vis the situation Syria needs to be taken. We were able to reconfirm – reaffirm this point that we would cooperate towards this end.

and to low-carbon growth realization and penetration; and three, a society resilient...

In another global issue, regarding climate change, we agreed to cooperate based on the process of U.N.-led negotiations on building the future framework and to low-carbon growth realization and penetration, three, a society resilient toward climate change, including adaptive capability and disaster mitigation. We agreed that based on these three pillars, we will carry out cooperation regarding climate change. We agreed upon this point, and the details are given in the fact sheet to be distributed later.

I understand Secretary Kerry will deliver a speech on the U.S. Asian policy here in Tokyo tomorrow. I am looking forward to his speech. This concludes my remarks. And Secretary Kerry, John please.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Kishida. I really appreciate very, very much your welcome. It’s great to see you again so soon. We’ve been spending enough time together that I think we’re getting to the point where we can almost finish each other’s sentences.

I appreciate the depth of the discussions that we’ve had, most recently in London, where we were able to lay some of the foundation for the discussions here today. And today, as you have just announced to everybody, we’ve really covered a very broad number of subjects.

It’s fair to say that through the decades of our alliance, the United States and Japan, our countries have really thrived together. And not only have we thrived individually together, but we have been able to be the cornerstone of peace and security within this region. And I think it’s fair to say that you are confident, as I am, that we’re going to be able to build this relationship to be even stronger in the days and years ahead.

I briefed Foreign Minister Kishida on my meetings in Beijing yesterday, and before that in Seoul on Friday. And I told Foreign Minister Kishida that the goal of both China and the Republic of Korea is the denuclearization of North Korea. And that was strongly, strongly reaffirmed by my counterparts in Beijing yesterday. We are committed to take action together – we, Japan, the United States. And the other countries that I have met with in the last two days are committed to make that goal of denuclearization a reality.

I also confirmed to the Foreign Minister that the U.S.-Japan alliance has really never been stronger than it is today, and the U.S. is fully committed to the defense of Japan. We agreed to have further dialogue at a high level over the course of these next days with respect to the steps that we can all take together in order to try to guarantee a peaceful resolution, which is our first priority. The biggest priority is a peaceful resolution to the issues of North Korea. The Foreign Minister and I also discussed, as he said, the base alignment issue, which has been a difficult issue, but one that both sides have worked effectively and, I think, in good faith.

The Foreign Minister and I are confident that we can and will keep making good progress on Okinawa, including moving towards the construction of the Futenma replacement facility. And I want to thank Prime Minister Abe, and I want to thank the Foreign Minister, for their diligent efforts to try to follow through on this. And I think both sides need to fulfill their parts of the bargain, and we will.

In our discussion, I reiterated the principles that govern our consideration of the longstanding policy on the Senkaku Islands. The United States, as everybody knows, does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands. But we do recognize that they are under the administration of Japan. And we obviously want all the parties to deal with territorial issues through peaceful means. Any actions that could raise tensions or lead to miscalculations all affect the peace and the stability and the prosperity of an entire region. And so we oppose any unilateral or coercive action that would somehow aim at changing the status quo.

In terms of global challenges, I want to say that I thank the Foreign Minister and I thank Japan for really the amazing role that it is playing on a global basis. Japan is engaged in the rest of the world, and it is engaged in a positive and a constructive way. And we’re grateful for their partnership on a number of issues, like a major contribution to the shared mission in Afghanistan, Japan’s humanitarian assistance in Syria, and its steadfast commitment to preventing a nuclear armed Iran.

We also discussed the urgency of moving forward with the Middle East peace process. And I am particularly grateful to the Foreign Minister and to Japan for their desire to work closely on this issue. We discussed the economic initiative that I announced when I was in Israel, and that we talked about recently in London. And Japan has agreed to consider the way in which it might be able to play a role in that economic partnership to try to make a difference in the quality of life and the conditions on the ground in the West Bank. The Foreign Minister told me that he intends to be deeply involved in the international framework surrounding this process, and the United States certainly appreciates and welcomes Japan’s participation and partnership.

Japan, as we all know, is also a vital partner with respect to addressing the question of climate change. The Foreign Minister and I agreed to raise the initiative above the level that it is today, much as we did yesterday at Beijing, because of the urgency of this issue. And we have agreed to engage in a new bilateral dialogue based on three pillars: focusing on post-2020 climate agreements, enhancing the low emissions development, and helping to build climate-resilient societies. And we are issuing a joint statement today to lay out exactly what we believe we can do in partnership with respect to this issue.

I want to say that the Prime Minister has also shown very strong leadership in taking steps to join the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership – the TPP, as it’s been referred to in the Foreign Minister’s comments. Last week, the United States and Japan reached a critical bilateral agreement after more than a year of work. And we are now pleased to express our support to Japan for the TPP. Clearly, having Japan in the TPP would be an enormous economic benefit for all of us. As I think the Minister mentioned in his comments, Japan and the other countries in the TPP together with the United States would represent 40 percent of GPD. That is a critical mass when it comes to economic standards. And we believe it will help raise standards across the globe with respect to international business.

I’m also very aware about the question of the child abduction convention. And I want to thank the government for submitting to the Diet. We’re very hopeful that that will be able to be passed, but we’re also sensitive to the fact that there are ongoing cases that will not be grandfathered into the new Hague legislation. And I want to emphasize to the Foreign Minister that the United States is ready to assist in helping to get those cases resolved.

Finally, I am pleased to join with the Foreign Minister in announcing that for the first time ever between Japan and the United States, we are going to enter into a high-level and urgent dialogue between our countries that will take place here on May 9th and 10th with respect to cyber security. As I have said previously, there isn’t one aspect of life today for anybody in the world – or most people in the world, I should say – that isn’t affected by cyber engagement. And whether it’s public transportation or air traffic systems, buses, trains, or water systems, or security systems, communications particularly, banking and financial transactions, every aspect of life is affected by this. And we need, needless to say, to live by the highest standards with rules of the road that everybody comprehends, and with security that guarantees the safety of all of those systems together.

So our countries are already working closely on these issues, but this is going to provide a gathering where we have a better opportunity to flesh out what the challenges are ahead. So once again, Mr. Minister, thank you very, very much. I’ll look forward to meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back here in Japan, in Tokyo, where I’ve been before but never as Secretary of State. And I’m delighted to be able to be here in a great working partnership with the Foreign Minister. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much indeed. We would like to proceed to questions and answers. Those of you with questions, please raise your hand, and wait until you are appointed. Those people who are appointed, please approach the microphone and state your name and affiliation before asking your question.

We’d like to start with the Japanese press, followed by the press accompanying the U.S. delegation. We’ll have two rounds. Let us begin with the Japanese press.


QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible.) I’d like to ask the two – Minister, Secretary – North Korea is escalating in terms of its provocative action. And I understand that the U.S. and Japan governments will cooperate, but please explain in specific terms how the two countries will cooperate.

And also, is it possible to deter North Korea? I’d like to hear your outlook on this. And we also understand that South Korea has called on North Korea to engage in dialogue. What is your take on this approach being taken by South Korea?

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Allow me to begin. First in regards to the provocative behavior, repeated behavior on the part of North Korea, and the escalation of such behavior, I’d like to say that it’s important that countries related need to take international collaborative action. And through various opportunities, we have been sending out strong messages towards North Korea, and we have to continue to do so, and strengthen our collaboration towards approaching North Korea.

And in addition to this, Japan and U.S. and South Korea need to further deepen our collaboration, and we have to consider the framework to enable this to happen. Furthermore, in regards to this issue of North Korea, and in regards to dialogue, it is true that various discussions are underway, as you’ve mentioned. President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and also the Minister for Reunification is making reference to holding dialogues with North Korea. I am aware of this fact. And also Secretary Kerry has stated that the U.S. is prepared to enter into talks, but only if North Korea takes steps towards denuclearization. Japan’s position has continued to be the same, and based on the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Delcaration, we demand comprehensive resolution of the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. And there is a need for a such comprehensive resolution. And for this purpose, Japan has been taking and will continue to take a dialogue and pressure policy.

Japan has not closed its door towards a dialogue with North Korea for the sake of resolving this issue. And for this reason, North Korea must show that it is truly working towards resolving this issue in – with good faith. And Japan was to collaborate with the United States, South Korea, and other countries so that we can ensure that the obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolutions and Six-Party Talks joint statements are fulfilled by North Korea, and that North Korea behave with integrity and abide by these resolutions and joint statement in full. North Korea must take action to prove that it has changed its position. And we would like to call upon North Korea to choose the road of engaging positively with the international community.

SECRETARY KERRY: I think that the Foreign Minister has well answered the question of what might be expected, but let me try to put this, if I can, into a broader context perhaps.

I think that what happened yesterday should not be underestimated, and is not a small event in the context of life between China and North Korea, and indeed its relationship to the Korean Peninsula. State Councilor Yang Jiechi sat with me and joined with me in making a strong statement about China’s commitment to denuclearization through, it hopes, obviously, peaceful means. Likewise, a joint statement was issued through the government after my meetings with

President Xi and with Premier Li, both of whom confirmed China’s commitment to the denuclearization of the peninsula.

In South Korea, obviously in Korea, in the Republic of Korea, a similar declaration was made, but we understand that. That would be expected. Japan has now joined in, in the very clearest of terms. So what you have, in addition to that, is a China that made it very clear that we can’t simply have a rhetorical policy. And I agree with China. So the question is: What steps do you take now in order to make sure that we are not simply repeating the cycle of the last years? Nobody wants to go there.

So I believe that China, by making clear its policy, will join with others in an effort to try to make that policy real and implement it. And I think if we don’t, then all of our nonproliferation efforts on a global basis begin to suffer. If we don’t give meaning to that policy, it will have certainly less meaning to Iran or less meaning anywhere else. And I think everybody understands that. So as a consequence, I think we have to be careful and thoughtful, and frankly, not lay out publicly all the options, but work privately and quietly at the highest levels of government in order to try to take steps to bring about a peaceful resolution. And I want to emphasize to everybody that that is the outcome that we want.

So – excuse me – hopefully North Korea will hear our words and recognize that for the future of its people and for the future stability in the region as well as on the peninsula itself, there is a clear course of action that they are invited to take, and they will find in us ready partners to negotiate in good faith to resolve this issue.

With respect to the President of the Republic of Korea and her offer, I think it should be welcomed. I think she has shown great courage in her willingness to try to move in a different direction, providing she has a willing partner to move in that direction with. Obviously right now, that can’t happen. But I think it’s important that she has made clear that the policy of her government will be to build a trust-politic approach to this issue in the future, and I think everybody should welcome that.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Next the U.S. side. Ms. Brennan.

QUESTION: Margaret Brennan of CBS News. Minister Kishida, April 15th is the birthday of the Great Leader, the founder of North Korea. It’s often an occasion for a military display of force. Pyongyang has said Japan will be the first target if they were to go to war. So if we do see any kind of missile test, can you explain to us what Japan’s response will be?

And Secretary Kerry, we’re in a region that’s heavily militarized. There are a number of territorial disputes, and now this crisis on the peninsula. What have you done in the past few days that you think has deescalated tensions here?

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Well, first, April 15th, this day that you pointed out, there – a lot of information, and Japan is – needs to be fully prepared for any contingencies in Japan. And this provocative behavior by North Korea, once a contingency were to occur because of this behavior, and here in Japan and the relevant divisions, people are making all our preparation for such contingencies. And at the same time, in order to avoid such a situation, we need to strengthen our international collaboration. And therefore, U.S., Japan, and other relevant countries need to further strengthen our relationship, and Japan is working towards this end.

Now, the repeated behavior on the part of North Korea, we must not be influenced merely by this action, but instead we have to get North Korea to understand that such behavior will not benefit them in any way whatsoever. And the international community needs to work together to send out such a strong message. Japan needs to be fully prepared for such contingencies, and at the same time we need to make, and continue to make, diplomatic efforts.

MODERATOR: Secretary Kerry, please.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I agree with Fumio. I think that – I think it’s really unfortunate that there has been so much focus and attention, both within the media and elsewhere, on the subject of war, when what we really ought to be talking about is the possibilities of peace. And I think there are those possibilities, notwithstanding the rhetoric and the provocations.

The North has to understand, and I believe must by now, that its threats and its provocations are only going to isolate it further and impoverish its people even further. And they have to understand also something that we have consistently made clear. President Obama has made it clear. I think I’ve tried to underscore the President’s policy as much as possible. And it is very simple: that the United States will do what is necessary to defend our allies – Japan, Republic of Korea – and the region against these provocations. But our choice is to negotiate. Our choice is to move to the table and find a way for the region to have peace. And we would hope that whatever considerations or fears the North has – of the United States or of others in the region that they would come to the table in a responsible way and negotiate that. We are confident that we can address the concerns with respect to their security and find ways together with China and the Republic of Korea and Japan and Russia and the members of the Six-Party Talks, we can find a way to resolve these differences at a negotiating table. I hope they will hear that and I hope they will respond to that, and any other choice by them will simply further isolate them in the world and make it clear to the rest of the world where the problem really lies here. That’s our hope.

With respect to the part of the question about what have I done or what has happened here to reduce the tension, I have to let others answer that question. You can ask the other interlocutors that we’ve talked to. But I do know that with every person I have talked I have tried to emphasize the interest of the United States in resolving all of these differences differently, that we want to avoid unilateral actions and coercive actions that take very old and contentious historical differences and somehow make them an issue of currency that threatens the peace of the region. I am convinced that even those difficult historical issues can be resolved in a peaceful way over a period of time.

So I have urged people to step back. I have urged people at every step not to engage in provocative actions, whether it’s around rocks or islands or land or in the Sea of Japan or in the East China Sea – everywhere. And hopefully, and I do believe this, I believe the responses I heard from every leader I talked to is that people want to avoid the provocations, they recognize the volatility, they recognize the possibility for mistake. And I hope that the behavior over these next weeks and months will reinforce those statements.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Japan press, please, Matsuura.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Matsuura from Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, to both of you. You’ve been talking about North Korea and the fact that China has the strongest influence over North Korea, and what action will you be asking China to take? Specifically, Kerry said that such talks should take place quietly, but because there’s great concern here in Japan, to the extent that you can disclose what have you discussing with China. And also on the Japanese side there is the issue of Senkakus and it’s difficult for Japan to hold dialogues with China, but how is Japan going to approach China?

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Minister, please allow me to first respond. First you say this issue of North Korea, China’s role will continue to be very significant. I do understand that that is China’s position. China has had a longstanding relationship with North Korea, and also looking at the (inaudible) situation we understand that China’s role is very significant. U.S., Japan, and South Korea and these countries need to have strong collaboration, as I mentioned. But at the same time, we need to have China play its role and we need to hold discussions to enable this to happen.

And about Senkakus, what was your – the second part of your question? Sorry, could you repeat?

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Japan, because of Senkakus, Japan is finding it difficult to hold dialogue with China, but how will Japan be approaching China?

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Well, yes, as you say, with China we do have this difficult issue between us, but Japan and China, our relationship for Japan is one of the most important bilateral relations. And the fact that there is a stable relationship between these major two economies in the region will lead to the stability and prosperity of the region. So I think that both countries hold a major responsibility, and therefore we need to promote from a broad perspective the mutually beneficially relationship based on common strategic interests. And therefore, Japan’s door for dialogue is always open. That is a basic position. I hope that such dialogue can be realized. We on our side will make every effort towards this end and we would like to also see that the relevant countries understand Japan’s position and support Japan as well.

Secretary Kerry, please.

SECRETARY KERRY: As I said previously, we had very, very extensive and candid conversations at the highest level in China. And China, as everybody knows, has a very long and close relationship with North Korea, but it is fair to say from their statements yesterday that China is very concerned about where the situation is today. It would be entirely inappropriate for me to lay out to you any of those options, particularly since they are under consideration and in discussion. And it really is important for China to speak for China, obviously, and so I am going to just say to you that there’s no question in my mind that China is concerned and takes this issue very seriously, and we will continue our high-level discussions in the days ahead.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) Mr. Taylor from U.S. side.

QUESTION: Yes, my name is Guy Taylor of the Washington Times. My question is first for Foreign Minister Kishida. Concerning the escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula now but also in the long term, does Japan feel sufficiently protected against the threat posed by North Korea in light of the remarks made in Beijing yesterday by both the Chinese and U.S. sides but also in light of the possibility that the United States may reduce its military footprint in the region?

And for Secretary Kerry, could you please clarify what you meant or elaborate on your comment yesterday that if the threat from North Korea – if the threat from North Korea is not there, then the U.S. does not need a forward-leaning military posture? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Minister, please, yes. If I were to respond to your question first, the United States will continue to maintain its strategy towards its rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific and the fact that the U.S. will continue to maintain its defense capability in this region based on the alliance is something that we were able to reaffirm in today’s talks, and that is our understanding of the U.S. position.

Now, this issue pertaining to North Korea and the provocative speech and behavior, the situation has become very uncertain because of the repetition of such speech and behavior. But we need to continue to reaffirm the U.S.-Japan alliance and understand what role each country needs to carry out, the roles to be fulfilled by both sides, and also what the alliance needs to do. And by implementing what we have agreed, we believe that we can protect the peace and stability of this region. I think that we need to try to carry out this effort. So by carrying out such effort for sure, we will be able to peacefully pave the way towards peacefully resolve this issue. And with this confidence, we would like to continue to make efforts.

Secretary Kerry, please.

SECRETARY KERRY: Let me emphasize that President Obama is committed to the current force posture that is deployed in the region, which was augmented, as you know, with the rebalancing, as well as to our general commitments to the region. And there’s no discussion that I know of to change that posture whatsoever. We stand by our commitments. We stand by our commitment to Japan and our allies as well as to our interests in the region with respect to freedom of navigation and other treaty alliances that we have, and there’s no discussion of changing that.

Nor was there any discussion of trading or somehow getting involved in a deal with respect to the augmented posture in direct response to what has happened in Korea. I made the statement, and I’ll make it again because it’s a matter of logic and it is, in fact, policy: The President of the United States deployed some additional missile defense capacity precisely because of the threat of North Korea; and it is logical that if the threat of the North Korea disappears because the peninsula denuclearizes, then obviously, that threat no longer mandates that kind of posture.

But there have been no agreements, no discussions, there’s nothing actually on the table with respect to that. I was simply making an observation about the rationale for that particular deployment, which is to protect United States’ interests that are directly threatened by North Korea, specifically Guam, Hawaii, possibly at some point, given the direction Kim Jong-un has indicated he wants to go, the continental United States, and very much our current allies, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and others in this region. And that is the reason for the deployment.

FOREIGN MINISTER KISHIDA: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. With this, we are now to conclude the press conference.

PRN: 2013/T03-19